Long Story $hort: Season 2, Episode 5

How Annette Redefined Her Relationship with Money

After a difficult divorce and subsequent relocation, Annette Spychalla accumulated consumer debt that was too big to overcome alone. In this episode, Annette shares how she found the courage to face her problems and get help. With MMI’s help, Annette paid off $20,000 of credit card debt in four years.

Now working as a Jay Shetty certified life coach, Annette advises that anyone struggling with their relationship with money should get quiet and be radically honest with their beliefs and current situation.

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Annette Spychalla, Long Story $hort.

Show Notes

  • Guest: Annette Spychalla
  • Host: Adam Walker
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023


2:29 | Annette explains how a difficult divorce and cross-country move put her into unexpected debt.

4:08 | Adam and Annette discuss the ways that fear of being judged can stop us from getting the help we need.

7:46 | Annette talks about her debt management plan and MMI's negotiation with her creditors.

10:32 | Adam and Annette talk about the stigma most people feel about debt and discuss ways to overcome that stigma.

12:08 | Annette shares her philosophy for improving your relationship with money.

Episode Transcript

Adam Walker: Debt. We've all heard of it, most of us have it. Debt is an almost unavoidable reality of life, but what happens when it starts consuming life?

The experts at Money Management International believe that financial challenges aren't meant to be faced alone. On this podcast, we hear stories of peoples whose lives have been changed by MMI's role as their toughest coach and loudest cheerleader. Their stories are unique, personal, and inspiring. So stay tuned because we're sharing each guest's Long Story Short.

Today on the show, I'm talking with Annette Spychalla. Annette lives in Peoria, Arizona, which is about 30 minutes northwest of Phoenix. While working with the debt relief counselors at Money Management International, Annette paid off $20,000 of credit card debt in four years. Here today to share more about her debt payoff story is Annette. Annette, welcome to the show!

Annette Spychalla: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Adam Walker: I'm excited to talk to you about this. I think this is gonna be enlightening and informative and a lot of fun. So, let's get started. Tell us a little bit more about you, you know, where you live, what you do, what do your days look like?

Annette Spychalla: Well, it has been quite an evolutionary journey, I would say. At this point, I am working as an accredited Jay Shetty life coach. So I, you know, do a lot of work from home and I work with clients on empowerment and courage and just, you know, life purpose, those kinds of things. Yeah, so I, you know, honestly, it's just a really beautiful thing to be able to work from home, and that's my life right now. I mean, so.

Adam Walker: Well, that sounds pretty great. I mean, you work from home and it sounds like you do a lot of things that help a lot of people. So that's, that's kind of a double win right there.

Annette Spychalla: Yeah. Yeah, it's awesome.

Adam Walker: I love it. I love it. Okay. So let's talk about what was happening in your life around the time that you accumulated debt. Was there any kind of specific aha moment where you realized you needed help, or sort of walk us through that progression.

Annette Spychalla: Yeah. Well, I guess I can say that the accumulation of the debt really arose from, you know, a real difficult divorce, relocating, you know, across the country. You know, it was a lot of, financial payments to attorneys and credit cards and you know, all the things that you need to really start over. And that's what we did.

So I can remember, you know, one time it was like, I think it was 2018, roughly. We were heading into summer and I really wanted to take the kids on a vacation. Just couldn't make that happen, and the idea of putting it on another credit card was just completely overwhelming. So I'm doing the bills at the table. Just had one of those aha moments where, you know, I can't live like this. The emotional and mental turmoil and that horrible feeling in your gut, you know, that you just can't, this is not sustainable.

So I did, I called, MMI, and I decided to face the music and just really have a heart to heart conversation about the facts, in a very non-judgmental way. And for me that was a completely wonderful moment. And it was also working with a woman, which understood, you know, the idea of being, the whole thing, you know, about being a single mom. So that was wonderful too. But just no judgment, you know, and having that ability to really just hit the hard facts and, you know, go from there and make a plan. So that was that kind of critical moment for me.

Adam Walker: There were two things that you said there. One was face the music. So I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about like, how, like, what you were thinking, how you were feeling about that and, like sort of why you even used that term now.

And then you know, I'd love even to continue to talk a little bit about the non-judgmentalness of it, because I think that, that's always the concern. It's like, it's an embarrassing almost feeling to call and say, I need help in any capacity. And so the, I think you always assume there's gonna be judgment and, you're not the first guest that said there's not, which is great. But I wonder if you could just elaborate a bit more on both of those things for me.

Annette Spychalla: Sure, so I guess for me it was kind of, you know, if you, if you ignore it, it's kinda like the ostrich sticking their head in the sand. You know, if you ignore it, maybe it'll go away. Meanwhile, you're completely exposed. And so that idea of, okay, I can't, I mean this isn't gonna work. I mean, if you apply logic and reason to that situation, this isn't gonna work, you know? And so I guess that, I don't know if that answers your question, but it just, it really was this idea of being exposed and not having any control over that situation. Like it would just continue to bloom outta control, you know?

And I think also that we live in this society where it's just, you know, very competitive, very, you know, keeping up with the Joneses next door. You know, if you don't have the latest iPhone then, you know something's the matter with you or you know, whatever. And that's a hard thing to battle, while doing all these other things. You know, for me it was doing the single mom thing, starting over, how do I handle all these things? And also model, you know, a good relationship with money for my kids. So those were all, you know, very important to me. Yeah. So that's really kind of, you know, where I was at that time.

Adam Walker: Okay. Okay. And, and on the non-judgment side, I mean, do you have anything you wanna elaborate on there as well? I mean, or maybe you've, maybe you've said it all and that's fine. We can move on. I just was curious.

Annette Spychalla: Yeah. Again, you know, people attach a lot of emotional and you know, good, bad kind of ideas to money. And money is a very neutral thing. It doesn't, you know, come into your house and tell you how to feel and act and behave and all these other things. But I think getting back to that neutral place, and also having appreciation for all of the things that it has done, you know, in my life, really led to that idea of, I can work with someone if they're not gonna judge me about how I needed it to survive in certain ways, I suppose.

But also, you know, how to, just approach it in a very calm, very, you know, logical fashion for me was really important to kinda divorce myself from that emotional side of money.

Adam Walker: Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. That's, that's great. Thank you. All right, so, so next question then, since working with MMI, as I mentioned earlier, you paid off $20,000 and increased your credit score by 45 points. How did getting a personalized debt management plan help you balance your budget and see a path forward?

Annette Spychalla: Well, I think at the end of the day it's that, you know, the credit card companies really just wanna get their money. They don't, you know, with very bottom line, they don't want, you know, their, their credit card holders to, you know, file for bankruptcy. Cause then they're not gonna get anything. And so that was a key, that negotiation piece between the counselor and the companies to really kind of shut down the idea that, look, we can't just keep doing this interest only kind of payment. You're gonna get your money, but we've gotta close things down and we've gotta make this a manageable, you know, situation.

Adam Walker: So like, I wonder like, what impact did it have on you in terms of having a budget, having a plan. Like how did that help you? You know, that sort of thing.

Annette Spychalla: It was really just the approach of having a logical plan to follow. You know, there were no surprises. It was very black and white. It was, okay, here's the debt, here's what you can do. And still, you know, afford food and, you know, the occasional movie or whatever. It was a real straightforward budget. And that helped me a lot, you know? And I was involved in that creation so that, you know, it was something that I could really commit to.

Adam Walker: That's great. That's great. Yeah. I mean, I think- I think being involved in that budgeting process and having a straightforward budget where you can see the categories, you know what they are, and you can stick to 'em makes just all the difference in the world. So, so what has your credit counseling experience with MMI been like? And would you say, what would you say your biggest lesson has been through the process?

Annette Spychalla: I would say that they offer all kinds of different educational pieces that you can certainly take advantage of. But you know, one of the biggest things for me was really being able to see the debt go down. You know, it's like those old fashioned thermometers, you know, when you're trying to raise money where it's going up.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Annette Spychalla: But for me, I was watching it come down, you know, and that was very inspirational to me. So that helped. They have a great website. It's easy to navigate, easy to use. Those things were important as well, so. And I can call and talk to somebody, you know, if I was struggling that month, we could talk about, you know, maybe there were some alternatives. However, this is what it's gonna look like. You know, do you want it to go, you know, into a longer timeframe of paying it off? Or do you wanna kind of stick to the plan? So, you know, that was helpful as well.

Adam Walker: Yeah, I imagine that would be really helpful. I mean, just having somebody to check in with and sort of talk through things with is so helpful, so important in these kinds of situations.

Annette Spychalla: Yeah.

Adam Walker: So, so even though consumer debt is super common, we typically don't talk about it at all. So how do you think debt counseling nonprofits like MMI can help break through that debt stigma?

Annette Spychalla: I think education, I mean, it's the idea of constantly getting education on what is really going on, with your own situation and having the courage to face what is happening in your life that's causing you to get into this situation in the first place. So MMI helps with, you know, a lot of the logical and facts, the non-judgmental kind of approach.

And then I think from there, really it's, it's kind of a springboard to explore those ideas. And you know, what is your relationship to money? What is making you do this? You know, those are core things that need to be talked about and healed so that, you know, you don't just get through this program and then all of a sudden, woohoo, let's get a, you know, $20,000 credit card and go on a vacation of our dreams. You know? I mean, cause that's not, just not gonna work.

Adam Walker: That doesn't help. That doesn't help. Yeah.

Annette Spychalla: No, no.

Adam Walker: Yeah. So, so, I mean, I want you to elaborate on that for a minute. Cause I know, you know, you're a coach and you're interested in helping others heal their relationship with money, like we talked about, you know, before we started recording. So, I wonder if you could elaborate on that a little bit. Like what are some actionable steps a listener could take today to start improving their relationship with money?

Annette Spychalla: I think to kind of shift the idea that, you know, there are, there's good and bad associated to money.

Adam Walker: Okay.

Annette Spychalla: And the only way that, and in my opinion, that you can really get to that point is to just get quiet with yourself and start asking some questions of, you know, just like a pro and con list almost. Like, what has money done for you? How is it, how do you, can you appreciate it? How can you, you know, kind of shift the focus onto the fact that it has good emotional energy, versus oh my gosh, look at this huge pile of debt that I'm in.

So it's really kind of getting quiet and learning how to ask those questions about, you know, what you think. Where does that come from? You know, is there a historical pattern? Maybe you weren't taught how to handle money by your parents, or maybe, you know that there's some financial crisis that you went through. And so, a lot of those things have to really be discussed and answered in a, quiet space with yourself.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Annette Spychalla: I mean, you've gotta have the courage to do that, otherwise you're back to square one in some ways, you know?

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Annette Spychalla: So.

Adam Walker: And I mean, it sounds like from what you're saying too, like step one is, is just look at your relationship with money. Like how do you even think about it? Because that's something that I would argue that most of us never do. But how do you think about it? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it helpful? Is it not helpful? Is it stressful? Is it peaceful? Like, what is it to you and how do you think about it?

Annette Spychalla: Right. Right. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Adam Walker: That sounds like a great first step. So, I might be doing a little bit of a soul searching after this conversation, so, alright. Alright, well, Annette this is great. Last question. What does freedom from debt look like for you?

Annette Spychalla: For me, it's really being able to manage where I'm at right now, but also have like this, freedom to travel, to you know, be kind of more of a digital nomad so that, you know, I can experience things in other ways. And I think it's, it can be kind of there as a, I don't know, a life raft if necessary. You know, if you have to have a credit card, you can kind of leave it out there as a, as the proverbial life raft. But for me it's really being conscious of managing where I'm at, so that I don't go into the place that I was before.

Adam Walker: Yeah.

Annette Spychalla: You know?

Adam Walker: That's good. That's such good advice. Well, wow. Annette this has been great. I appreciate you so much just sharing your journey, your experience, your thoughts, your wisdom and your growth with us. And thanks for joining us on the show today.

Annette Spychalla: Absolutely. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Adam Walker: This guest is a real MMI client whose success is the result of hard work and dedication. While MMI cannot guarantee results, taking early action can increase available options and improve long-term outcomes. Thanks for listening to this episode of Long Story Short, brought to you by Money Management International.

To learn more about how MMI helps people from all walks of life get unstuck and out of the vicious cycle of debt through personalized solutions that inspire hope, visit moneymanagement.org. This episode was produced by Edgewise Media. Script writing and production by Clara Jennings. Editing by Brandon Ellis and show hosting by me, Adam Walker.

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